Not long ago, solar energy was seen as an infeasible option despite its obvious benefits over fossil fuels. High costs of solar panels kept it out of reach of most. Non-renewable sources on the other hand, were cheaper and in abundance. Today it is becoming easier to take note of solar technology in our everyday life. A steady decline in exhaustive resources and falling prices of solar products have changed things rapidly and made solar energy a lot more accessible.
India has shown remarkable progress in the solar sector and if this trend continues, it estimated that by 2040, renewable energy will rise up to 49% in India. As a result, solar products will become indispensable, much like electricity is today. This is a gradual transformation and it might be a while before solar panels become a common sight. However, as of today, there are many uses of solar technology in our everyday life. Some of which are:
1. Solar Chargers
Leaving the house without having to worry about your phone’s battery is like a blessing in today’s technology powered world. Carrying your phone’s charger may not be useful if you have to spend a lot of time outdoors and portable chargers have their own limitations. A solar charger has its own mini solar panel so all you need to do is plug your phone and lay the charger so that its panel faces the sun and you’re done.
2. Solar Street Lights
It might not seem like a big deal but street lights contribute their fair share towards greenhouse gas emissions. Solar powered street lights solve this problem and involve a lot less hassle. Panels are installed on each light to store energy during the day which is used to power it later at night. And since these are not connected to any grid, there is no need to for any additional wires as well.
3. Solar Transport
Cars, trains, buses, planes – solar energy can power any vehicle to its full functionality. Although such vehicles are not used for daily transportation, there are some which utilise solar energy indirectly. The most widespread example of solar transport is solar powered boats available commercially.
4. Solar electricity
This is the most well-known use of solar energy. It is already being used to power homes across the globe. Installing solar panels on your rooftop eliminates dependency on a grid system as you will generate your own electricity. Plus, it will cut down your bills by more than half!
5. Solar Heaters
Solar heaters as the name suggests, can be used in place of traditional heating facilities for water, buildings and other spaces. While water heaters use solar thermal collectors for this purpose, air heaters depend on different methods to collect the solar radiation such as having huge windows facing the South direction. Water heaters are increasingly being used in homes in the United States to heat up the swimming pools and the payback on the installation cost is recovered within a year.
6. Solar Cookers
Solar cookers are designed on the principles of reflection, absorption and retention to cook food. They trap the sun-rays and utilise its heat for this purpose. Solar cookers are viable and can greatly benefit the rural areas which still rely on kerosene for cooking.
Besides photovoltaic systems, a lot of emphasis is being given to solar products and their penetration into the local markets. As per estimates, 46,655 solar street lights and 1,18,700 solar home lighting systems were installed and 1.4 million solar cookers were distributed in 2015. Solar energy has immense potential. If implemented efficiently, it can ensure self- sustenance right from the grass roots.